*tap tap tap*
The little girl ran with all her strength. Tears were overflowing from her eyes, hindering her view, but she didn’t have the leisure to wipe them off her face.
Her big brother, the only member of the family she had, had stayed behind to hold off the monsters and give the girl a chance to escape. His screams of agony still reverberated in her ears, filling her entire mind and overshadowing anything else that might’ve been heard otherwise.
The pained scream repeated over and over in her head, haunting her, consuming her. She felt that just behind her there’s a scary shadow tearing her only family left alive, while staring greedily at her.
She escaped frantically, her heart pounded and jumped around in her chest like mad, threatening to break out of her ribcage
She didn’t see or hear anything and the only thing that she could feel was fear. The only thing her mind focused on was running. She didn’t even have any time to feel guilt for leaving her brother behind for all of her resources were put into the escape.
She didn’t know for how long she ran, but when she came to her senses, she noticed that she was lost and that it was dark.
That was the last memory she had before she fainted.
She woke up inside a forest. She was hungry and her body was aching from bruises, exhaustion and the damage done to it by overexerting it. She walked around slowly because her legs refused to pick up speed and her mind was barely hanging on to her consciousness.
Eating whatever berries, fruits and mushrooms she knew she could eat, she somehow survived for three whole days. By then she was barely anything more than a husk walking. She didn’t think about life, about food and water and about how she would survive. She didn’t think at all, her body simply continued walking on its own.
It was at that time that a passing party of adventurers found her. Luckily for her, they were good people. Their healer took care of her bruises and all of them stopped in the middle of their way and made a camp just so they could nurse the poor girl back to health.
She was delirious for three days, on fourth she just slept the whole day, with small flashes of consciousness returning and fading again. The same on fifth. Only on the sixth day did she wake up, feeling weak and lethargic.
She has lost everything she had: her family, her village, all of her playmates. The reality caught up with her and shattered whatever was left of her already feeble will.
She survived, yes. Somehow she survived, just like her family wanted her to. It was for the purpose of her survival that everybody that she had ever cared about died. Understanding it, she felt hollow and miserable. Just the two words continued to repeat themselves in her head, taunting her, torturing her: “I survived, I survived, I survived…”
Lost, tired and weak, she just lied awake without any desire to rise. What for? Was there anything else left for her to do? Wouldn’t it be better for her to just continue lying like this? Wouldn’t it be better for her to… die?
So she just lied awake, unresponsive.
The party decided not to bother her and just travelled with her on their way to the city.
When they returned, the leader of the party, the spell-caster Marcus, decided to adopt her. She still refused to speak and Marcus called her Lachersia, which in the kingdom’s language meant “defying Fate”. The name was fitting in a cruel way to the girl who survived in the woods after a monster attack for so many days, all on her own and against all odds.
Time heals, or so they say. Days came and went and, slowly, the girl’s shattered heart began to mend. She began to come to terms with her past.
She found out that her adopted father was an incredible person that battled monsters so the same tragedy that befell her wouldn’t befall anybody else. She had heard the term “adventurer” before, but she had always associated it with the image of dirty crude mercenaries that would act like vultures and profit off of other’s misfortune. Seeing that Marcus and his party were a group of people who simply did all in their power to protect the common folk allowed her to see the occupation in a new light.
For her, Marcus was a role-model and a hero. She secretly dreamt of becoming an adventurer herself and with that determination she was able to overcome the scars that the past had left on her.
She asked Marcus to teach her and she showed a surprising talent for the Arcane.
At twelve, she was as good as her adopted father and would even go out with his party on the missions. While Marcus was against it, her persistence had no equal, so he wasn’t able to stop her.
At fourteen, she was the best magician in the city and was even offered a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy to learn the mysteries of magic. As opportunities for learning were few in her town, she agreed.
By the time she was sixteen, she was the most promising young mage of the generation in the Kingdom. Many eyes were on her and many expectations were placed on her shoulders.
Her peers avoided her because of her talent and almost manic desire for knowledge that was very uncharacteristic for young people her age, making it hard for her peers to feel close to her. Besides, she was beautiful, which was a source of envy from the girls and a source of trouble from the boys.
But she was able to deal with all of her problems through various, sometimes questionable and borderline immoral, means and didn’t find too many problems with her life there.
Being as promising as she was, many things were overlooked and forgiven. Besides, she knew methods to hide her traces from the times she was an adventurer.
Hearing about her success, her adopted father was so proud, he rode all the way to the Capital and held a celebration with her. He got so drunk that he got into a fight with a cat, which later became a source for much laughter from Lachersia.
When she was seventeen, she graduated, with her skill and knowledge rivaling the professors. She was offered to stay and become a teacher there but she refused. She went back to her hometown in order to fulfill her childhood dream.
Good things never last. During a moment of carelessness, her father died when fighting a monster. She once again was reminded of the terror she felt when she was small. Even though she had far surpassed him, in her heart her father was a hero, an idol, someone who wouldn’t be defeated even if the skies fell down and yet… he died.
It was crushing for Lachersia’s already fragile mental state that had never truly recovered from the nightmare that she experienced when she was young. She went on a rampage against monsters, destroying many of their nests but also destroying the ecosystem of the forest in the process.
Because of her, the monsters had change their settlements destroying many villages and killing many people in the process.
Unable to endure the fact that she became the reason for someone else’s nightmare, she left for the Capital and became a professor at the Academy.
Her life was bleak and gray during that time and even if you asked her, she would say that she didn’t remember much of that time. Again, she became something barely more than a husk.
It changed when the Demonic Wave began approaching and the kingdom summoned a hero.
It was said that the hero was very naïve and clueless when he first appeared. He wasn’t motivated to fight against the approaching Demonic Wave, but when he saw the destruction it caused, he resolved himself to fight in order to save innocent people.
As he survived many difficult battles, his heart and mentality matured and soon he became someone truly worthy of his title. The tales of his deeds had spread far and wide, and, of course, they also reached Lachersia.
Hearing about the work the hero did, Lachersia was reminded of the times when she was a little girl who idolized her adopted father when she found out why he was an adventurer. She once again obtained that little spark of light in the eternal night that was her world.
A new hope pushed her to try harder and soon she was able to become a Grand Mage and was invited to take the position of a Royal court magician. Her brilliance then allowed her to be assigned as a supporter to the hero.
She once again obtained companionship in the party of the battle-hardened veterans. Each and every one of them had a story to tell and every one of them believed in what they were doing. And of course, there was the hero. The brightest torch of hope for all humanity. He led them towards the center of the Demon Continent to quell the Demonic Wave. And he died there as well, sacrificing himself for the good of the world.
The Wave ended and the world entered a small period of peace. But Lachersia seeing how a few mere decades of relative stability turned the society rotten to the core, wondered if the sacrifice of the hero was worth it. If all of their efforts were worth it. If they were right to save humanity.
Being a mage comes with a very long life. A Grand Mage like her would live for hundreds of years, seeing generations change, people die and be replaced. Her character slowly turned cynical and misanthropic. Even though she now had the power, she never bothered to hunt monsters for to her there was little difference between them and humanity.
She became the head of the Academy and the head of all Royal court magicians somewhere along the lines, though in truth, she abandoned all of communication with others and became reclusive. But to the eyes of the public, she became mysterious. She earned praise and adoration while doing nothing for it. And it repulsed her.
At last, the strength of the Demon Wave began to grow. A decade later, the kingdom summoned a new hero.
The new hero was… unusual, to say the least.
First, she was a little girl. Second, she began raining heavy curses upon all of those who were present the moment she was summoned. Her words, though muddled because of alcohol, were full of mirth and felt like sharp and thin needles that pierced right into the heart of any topic she talked about. They were humiliating, insensitive but they were also full of truth and were delivered in a way that was easy to deny but even easier to believe. They would burrow their way into the minds of the listeners and refuse to leave, making them very uncomfortable and angry.
Some of the things that the heroine said were right that it would feel like a waste not to write them down, or share them, or so Lachersia felt. So she wrote those thought down, turned them into a letter and sent them to the Prime Minister who later next day throughout the day wore such a horrible grimace on his face, as if he ate a handful of bugs.
After the incident was over, she forgot about it. Though she was quite upset that the hero, or more like the sacrificial lamb, was taken to the dungeons, it didn’t matter much to her.
Later that night, she decided to visit the heroine. Maybe it was nostalgia or the hand of fate, though she was supposed to defy it, as her name suggested, she visited the little girl.
The change in the now sober heroine’s character was… surprising to say the least. She was meek, docile and afraid of even her own shadow. Only now she remembered that the heroine was but a little girl. There was an air of innocence to her and she was very adorable. Very quickly, Lachersia became attached to the little thing. And just as quickly she remembered the fate that was decided for the innocent and adorable girl she grew to like so much in that small timeframe.
Remembering the death of the hero, who sacrificed himself for people of a world alien to him and whose sacrifice was then promptly forgotten, remembering the death of her father, who died while fighting monsters for his convictions to save people, though it didn’t change anything in the end, remembering her brother’s death, who got torn apart protecting her, even though she would later find the fact that she was saved a burden, she couldn’t bear to see another person she found herself caring about die for the sake of somebody who would selfishly kidnap and force them to a battlefield.
She found herself wondering what she could do. What she had to do. Though in the end, the only real question was: “When she had to do it?”
And then there were no questions afterwards.
Amidst the sea of stars that were sprawled like jewels across the endless universe, the woman was sitting on her throne.
She looked wise and mature, yet the sparkle in her eyes betrayed some child-like curiosity and wonder.
She looked into a huge mirror in front of her on which millions of scenes were playing.
Countless personal tragedies and dramas played non-stop, while she looked at them with the smile of a child who pulled off a successful prank and yet that smile looked bewitching and mesmerizing.
Seeing a little girl running while her big brother was torn apart by vicious monsters, her smile deepened and she let out a giggle.
Seeing a man whose skin and eyes and hair had a metallic luster to them sitting in a café and saying: “It seems somewhat interesting how this story will turn out” she said to herself:
“It certainly is very curious”
And then she continued to watch the tragedies through the mirror.